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Downloads and Ratings ?

sarcastic_cynic

As just a reader, I always give a rating. Seems the right thing to do. Always amazed at some that have high downloads, with minimal ratings. An example is, "rlfj's Grim Reaper", which I thoroughly enjoy, shows 778741 downloads, and 3584 ratings.

Always wondered what some/many authors think.

Grant

@sarcastic_cynic

Always amazed at some that have high downloads, with minimal ratings. An example is, "rlfj's Grim Reaper"

It's still in progress.
I suspect a lot of people that read in progress stories don't rate it till it's complete.

Ernest Bywater

@sarcastic_cynic

As just a reader, I always give a rating. Seems the right thing to do.


Years ago I used to read and give stories a score while they were being posted, then I had a few incidents on top of each other which caused me to not score a story until it was finished. Three stories I was following all took a sudden and extreme turn which lowered the quality of the story and thus they went from an 8 to a 5 as far as I was concerned. Since then I refuse to score a story until it's finished. Since then I've stopped reading a story until it's finished, with the exception of a few authors I trust to finish the story.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
madnige
Updated:

@sarcastic_cynic

778741 downloads, and 3584 ratings


That's a pretty good vote rate - The download count is chapters, Grim Reaper is nearly 50 chapters, so that's getting on for half the readers have voted.

Edit - Download count is accesses, not chapters, but for a chapter-at-a-time serial it's about the same thing. And, non-premium members who don't use the updates pages often enough to catch updates will push the downloadcount higher just checking if it's been updated.

Argon

@sarcastic_cynic

You have to understand that the 777,800 downloads are the cumulative downloads of 45 chapters so far, including all re-reads. That means, there are probably less than 17,000 active readers (still an amazing popularity!). That means that (only?) about 20% of the readers give a score at this point. In my experience that is the average you get.
Personally, I give ratings to all ongoing stories that I follow, but only after I get a feel for the story, perhaps after five to ten chapters, which I update when I change my mind.
As a writer, the raw scores (not the "adjusted") and the distribution of scores used to be a welcome feedback to gauge the reception. A sudden increase of lower scores was a sign that something was going wrong or that I was touching a nerve. These low scores can be encouraging because they may signify emotionally involved readers.

Crumbly Writer

@Ernest Bywater

Three stories I was following all took a sudden and extreme turn which lowered the quality of the story and thus they went from an 8 to a 5 as far as I was concerned. Since then I refuse to score a story until it's finished.

The current scoring system allows you to change your rating on any given story. Many readers do this, rating each chapter posted (and posting a final rating once it's completed). This is actually helpful, as it can highlight problematic or well-received chapters (though few of us are surprised when action scenes score higher).

Chris Podhola

@sarcastic_cynic

Always wondered what some/many authors think.


Because I no longer post stories on SOL, I'm not afraid to answer your question for fear of reader retribution. While I will agree with the others that the 3584 ratings isn't too shabby, that doesn't make your question or point any less valid. For the most part, ratings and reviews are much more difficult to come by than they should be on a site like this, where an authors only reward for their hard work are ratings and reviews.

One of the reasons I no longer post stories here or on other free sites, is because it doesn't make sense to do so. There is no benefit. Not only is there no income stream, but I stopped learning anything new about what readers want. In my early days of writing and posting, that wasn't so much the case. Back when I made a ton of mistakes and was still learning the craft, there were plenty of people to offer criticisms. I admit that it wasn't difficult for them to find things to harp on. I had so much room for improvement that mistakes were easy to find.

The surprising thing is that as I improved, votes and reviews were harder to come by. My average scores increased by a wide margins, but lacking obvious mistakes to point out, feedback stopped coming nearly as often. Because learning how to improve was my main motivation for posting on free sites, and because that feedback quit coming as readily, I quit posting.

If you are a reader on this site or any other free site, your ratings and reviews are the only reward your favorite authors get. The less feedback that you give them, the less reward they get. That doesn't mean that you can't criticize their work. You can. Keep it constructive and most authors appreciate it. Some of us even prefer to hear the negatives, because it is through those that we learn our greatest lessons.

In other words, as an author, it is frustrating when audience participation is lacking. Especially in the free marketplace.

Switch Blayde

@Chris Podhola

For the most part, ratings and reviews are much more difficult to come by than they should be on a site like this


A whole lot easier than getting reviews on Amazon.

Replies:   Chris Podhola
Chris Podhola

@Switch Blayde

A whole lot easier than getting reviews on Amazon.


Oh for certain. I wholeheartedly agree. But I write stories because I love to write. I PUBLISH stories to make money. On Amazon, I could give two shits how many ratings or reviews I get. I still like it when they come in, but as long as I'm making sales, I don't care about the ratings or reviews. I am publishing there to make money and not to make reviews or ratings, or to learn new things about writing from my audience.

Replies:   ustourist  Switch Blayde
ustourist

@Chris Podhola

Don't you consider that as using and abusing the readers at sites like SOL?
If authors only come here to gain experience then dump the readers and other authors who helped them hone their craft, surely that attitude will actually discourage people from voting - after all, why praise a story when it means that another one may never become available here.
There obviously isn't a problem with having them available both here and on pay sites as several authors do just that.
To depart here because you feel other places are better, but to still read and comment on stories written by others does come over as more than a little hypocritical and mercenary.

Replies:   Chris Podhola
Chris Podhola
Updated:

@ustourist


Don't you consider that as using and abusing the readers at sites like SOL?


No. Not at all. A reader author relationship SHOULD be give and take. Should it not? Or are you under the impression that authors are obligated to provide you with reading material and do not deserve anything in return for their efforts?

When you go to work every day, do you not expect your employer to pay you for your work? Or do you volunteer your skills simply because you want the experience. Should your employer expect to be able to have your services for free until he considers you qualified?

Of course not. You don't work for free. You go there, expecting to be paid a commensurate rate right from the beginning ... right from the very first day, even if you are fresh out of high school and have no prior experience, Correct?

But when you think of an author, you then expect him or her to provide you with the fruit of their labor for free without offering them anything in return? You believe that they are there, simply for your benefit and that you owe them nothing, I guess.

No sir. I don't consider myself mercenary at all. Nor do I feel I am hypocritical. When I read a story written by another author, I rate it. I give them feedback, because I know what it is like to write and when the neighbor boy comes by and asks me if I would like for him to mow my lawn, I pay him a fair rate. I do not expect him to give me his sweat for nothing. I am not the hypocrite here.

Replies:   ustourist
Ernest Bywater

@Chris Podhola


In other words, as an author, it is frustrating when audience participation is lacking. Especially in the free marketplace.


Hate to tell you this, but in the mainstream printing market there is no audience participation beyond the initial purchase of the book. Also, no author hears anything about any that are sold on.

I write because I like to write, I post the stories because I know some people like to read what I write. I do find that when I post a story to Lulu first the sales jump right after I start posting the story to SOL and FS. Even when there are only going to be seven parts posted over a 14 day period there are people who don't want to wait that long and they'll pay the few bucks to get the full story from Lulu today instead of a several thousand words every other day at SOL. I also find it interesting the number of emails I get where people read the whole story at SOL and then later buy the e-pub from Lulu as a gift for someone else.

Replies:   Chris Podhola  Lumpy
ustourist

@Chris Podhola

Of course not. You don't work for free. You go there, expecting to be paid a commensurate rate right from the beginning ... right from the very first day, even if you are fresh out of high school and have no prior experience, Correct?

When I started in my profession it was common to work for nothing until experience had been gained and THEN work for low pay until professionally qualified. Not too long before that it was usually necessary to pay to get that training in many fields either as an apprentice or articled clerk.

No, I don't expect an author to provide a story for free, it is their option. But for an author who has done that to then basically say "Fuck you, I have got what I wanted and won't do anything for you now I can make money" is surely not the type of contributor that makes this site successful.

I would also clarify that I DO give my time, knowledge and product free in my own particular field, and have done so since my teens. That was easily managed alongside charging for it in a commercial environment. Now retired, I still provide my hobby expertise when needed as a public service.
I have no interest in what you do to make a living, but am sad to see this site used as a stepping stone by someone for their own financial gain. That seems to be contrary to the ethics of providing a free or optional subscription service to the public like Lazeez has done.

Replies:   Chris Podhola
Chris Podhola

@Ernest Bywater

I also find it interesting the number of emails I get where people read the whole story at SOL and then later buy the e-pub from Lulu as a gift for someone else.


I usually do the same thing here on SOl. If I find a story that I like here and then find out the author has it published for pay somewhere else, I will go there and purchase the book (as long as it was interesting enough for me to read to completion). I figure that if the author was skilled enough to get me to read his entire work and has it published for pay, and I felt compelled to read the entire work, I then owe it to him to purchase the work. That seems fair to me.

in the mainstream printing market there is no audience participation beyond the initial purchase of the book.


I agree with your statement, but the way I look at it, their purchase of the book and their willingness to come back and purchase more, is better than any written review or rating they could possibly give me. That's why I don't fret whether or not I get reviews or ratings on Amazon. I write the best story I can write and I publish it, hoping others will enjoy it. Knowing they are willing to pay for the stories is very rewarding to me.

Chris Podhola

@ustourist

When I started in my profession it was common to work for nothing until experience had been gained and THEN work for low pay until professionally qualified. Not too long before that it was usually necessary to pay to get that training in many fields either as an apprentice or articled clerk.


And SOL is the a fair comparison to that. I see it as a training ground. But when you offered your work for free, you did not do so without feedback and training. Your employer did not just take your labor and give you nothing in return. They gave you training. They gave you experience. It was a give and take relationship.

And I don't say fuck you to the readers who helped me learn my craft. I appreciate the help and encouragement that they gave me, but I do not feel obligated to provide them with free content for the rest of my life any more than you saw it fit to continue working for your original employer for free. (Or am I to assume that you still work for your original employer for free now that you have gained the experience that you set out to receive while working for that employer at not charge). These are not and should not be lifetime commitments.

And now that you are retired, it is great that you are willing to volunteer. I commend you for that, but you are not working for free. You get reward from it. It is still a give and take. What you receive is personal to you and none of my business, but you get something out of it. If you didn't, you wouldn't do it.

And again. Of course it is a stepping stone. Everything in life is a stepping stone. To expect otherwise is unrealistic. And again, it is hypocritical to expect your own career choices to support your financial needs, but to expect that authors must die of starvation and yet provide you with reading materials for your personal pleasure. Your commentary reeks of hypocrisy, sir. To think that your work has financial value, but mine does not is the epitome of self righteousness.

Switch Blayde

@Chris Podhola

On Amazon, I could give two shits how many ratings or reviews I get.


I've been told good reviews, and a lot of them, are paramount to making sales. And they're hard to get on Amazon. I've even read where people buy reviews to increase sales (which is now against Amazon's policy). That was my only point.

I PUBLISH stories to make money.


I also published my novel to make money. Not money to live on. Just enough to make me feel good, that people put a value on my writing.

Something funny happened just the other day. Someone, using SOL feedback so they're an SOL member, told me he was reading my novel on the Kindle Unlimited program when his subscription expired. He was up to the chapter where Rocco staked out the church (for those of you who've read the novel) and loved it but wasn't going to renew his subscription. He wanted to know what happened in the story.

I guess I could have said if he didn't buy it he would never know. After all, I published it to make money. But I felt, for whatever reason, that he couldn't afford it so I summarized the rest of the novel for him.

Replies:   Chris Podhola
Chris Podhola
Updated:

@Switch Blayde


I've been told good reviews, and a lot of them, are paramount to making sales. And they're hard to get on Amazon. I've even read where people buy reviews to increase sales (which is now against Amazon's policy). That was my only point.


I was pretty sure I understood your point. I guess, in my experience, I disagree with the premise. At least to a certain extent. Amazon algorithms do favor books with many good ratings over books with no ratings or books with bad ratings, so, to an extent your premise is true. Personally, however, the stories that I have with many ratings, do not necessarily sell better than the stories I have with little or no ratings. My current best selling story, a story which I make enough money to pay my rent by itself, has only 1 five star rating and that's it. Yet, I still make quite a few sales on it every single day. I also have several stories which 'were not the cup of tea' for a reader or two, who chose to give the story a negative rating, and yet, that story sold better after their bad review than it did prior to it.

And I would have done the same thing you did in the instance that you referenced. Yes. I publish to make money, but that doesn't mean that money is everything to me. Showing a little favor toward someone who has read my stories in the past would be a privilege that I wouldn't pass up.

sarcastic_cynic

Thanks for the all the answers.

Lumpy

@Ernest Bywater

Hate to tell you this, but in the mainstream printing market there is no audience participation beyond the initial purchase of the book. Also, no author hears anything about any that are sold on.


This is changing however with social media. A lot more mainstream authors are now interacting with their audience past the point of sale.

richardshagrin
Updated:

I visited a bookstore today and looked at Grumbles from the Grave by Heinlein, an anthology of his letters edited by his wife after his death. One interesting fact was that readers of Astounding magazine that published most of his early fiction had a reader poll, published about three months after the magazine issue date. Heinlein told John W. Campbell, the editor, that he would stop writing if his stories scored below first or second in the poll, which typically had five stories listed. He wanted to go out on top, if his quality fell below that minimum he would find something else to write than SF.

I guess sensitivity to poll numbers didn't start here on SOL.

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